Sox sweep Seals
Stuart Kitchen/For the Appeal-Democrat
For three hours Sunday night at All Seasons RV Stadium, the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox punished every pitcher the San Jose Seals sent to the mound.
A.J. Valentine and Jonny Norfolk each blasted home runs to lead a 15-hit attack as the Gold Sox put an exclamation point to the first half of the Horizon Air Summer Series season with a 21-4 pounding of the Seals to finish off yet another series sweep.
Brett Nightingale and Etienne Materre had three hits apiece as six Gold Sox hitters had two or more hits. Norfolk and Matt Suleski each drove in four runs, while Joél Torres led all batters with four runs scored.
The Gold Sox (26-5, 22-4) are off for the next three days during the mid-season break before resuming action on Thursday against the Solano Thunderbirds.
They have a big series following the one-game tilt with Solano as the Humboldt Crabs come to town for the first time ever. The Crabs are the oldest collegiate team in the state, celebrating its 60th year in existence with several championships. The Crabs rarely play outside of their home base of Eureka, which makes next weekend's series even more unique.
“The Crabs recruit players from all over the country, mainly in Oregon and Washington, and have very good teams every year. So this will be a huge test for us,” said Gold Sox manager Brad Peek.
As for Sunday's win, the Gold Sox continued the same pattern they had shown in the previous two wins over the Seals by jumping out to a big lead early. They scored five runs in the first, two in the second and three in the third to build a 10-2 lead after the Seals scored two to open the game.
Things didn't look so good for the Gold Sox early on when starter Josh Roberts left five batters into the game with tightness in his forearm. The reliever was making his first start of the season and had given up four hits and two runs before coming out. Michael Hall rushed out of the dugout and took over. He gave up two walks in a row before settling down over the next five innings. Hall allowed just one run and two hits in that span to earn his second win in two decisions.
“The big key for us tonight was the pitching of Hall,” Peek said. “He came in sooner than we planned and gave us five solid innings. We came in to the game tonight with a shortage of pitchers, and for Hall to pitch the way we needed was huge.”
Kody Keroher, Alex Zanini and Alberto Rolon rounded out the pitchers used by the Gold Sox. For Zanini, it was his first appearance as Peek had to go to his position players to find someone to give the team an inning or two.
Valentine hit his first home run of the year in the third with a runner on base, a laser shot to right. His homer gave the Gold Sox a 10-2 lead at the time.
Unlike Saturday's game where the Gold Sox let up after building a big lead in the fifth inning, Peek was happy to see his team keep their concentration and continue to pound the ball. They batted around in both the seventh and eighth innings and putting up 10 runs in the process. Norfolk connected with a three-run homer deep in right field to wrap up the Gold Sox scoring. It was also his first longball of the year.
“We made sure we brought up the subject of keeping yourself in a game no matter the score,” said Peek. “We stayed focus the entire way and it showed by the number of hits we got late in the game.”